The Christians at Thessalonica were experiencing tremendous hardship when Paul sent a second letter to them. They were undergoing trials that threatened to break their faith. But despite these pressures, their commitment to Christ remained strong. That’s why Paul could say, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

These Christians were going through the most unbelievable, most intense persecution, and yet their incredible faith caused the apostle Paul to use a word that he never used anywhere else in all of his letters. It’s a Greek word that means “bound, compelled, obligated.” That’s how strongly the apostle felt about giving thanks to God for the Thessalonians. Paul was saying, in effect, “Your faith has been so incredible in the midst of crushing circumstances that I feel I owe God my gratitude.”

We must be prepared for trials and suffering. After all, Jesus promised us it would be this way: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. . . . I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. . . . If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18-20).

Now, it’s not the sort of promise that people want to talk about. It’s not the kind of statement that gets turned into a decorative print or written on a coffee cup. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But when it comes, do not despair. Jesus assured His disciples in the very next breath, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

That was the secret to the Thessalonians’ faith, and it’s the secret to deepening your faith. Jesus empowers us to face every trial with faith in His promises, the same ones the Thessalonians had: He is returning soon; He is preparing a place for us—a city with eternal foundations; His victory is sure; no one can snatch you from His hands.

Rooted in these, you can look forward to the end of history and, like the Thessalonians, “[c]onsider it pure joy, . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the example of the Thessalonians’ faith. May I have the kind of faith that considers it pure joy when I face trials. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!

About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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